Flat Table or Concave Table?

This will be short. The whole idea that some manufacturers of sax mouthpieces actually design their pieces to have concave tables is ludicrous, both in theory and practice.

Let’s start with the theory: the concavity is there so that the reed has someplace to go when it swells up from moisture. Of course, the reed has “someplace to go” even on a flat table, and that “someplace is “up” into the ligature, while the reed remains firm against the flat table. The reed cannot expand into a solid, flat surface. Period.

But, let’s play along.

The reed, which everybody knows is a crapshoot from one to the next, cannot be expected to “expand” in the same way, one reed to the next. So, let’s introduce TWO variables into the equation: an unpredictable reed expansion, and an amorphous concavity on the table. What could go wrong? Actually, the real question is: what could go RIGHT?

I say “amorphous” concavity because I’ve never seen two concave tables that were anywhere close to the same, and I’ve seen a thousand. I am always astounded at the state of the tables I see. It’s actually incredible.

But a flat table? One that will hold a reed firmly and securely, and allow that reed to vibrate with integrity? Or the next reed, or the next one? One variable removed and all the expectations then firmly on the reed itself? That is when players get dependable results.

Of course, a “bad” reed happens. But it is immediately known that it’s the reed, not the player and not the mouthpiece.

Manufacturers almost never claim any “credit” for a concave table. The ones that do have been drinking the Kool-Aid, because it’s one less task to do before shipping a mouthpiece. And, it’s really the FIRST task that should be done, not the last.

The tables are concave because that is the way they come out of the manufacturing process. The tables need to be flattened. That takes effort, time and, the big one, expense. Easier to put a facing on it, put it in a box and send it to a distributor. A real player won’t see it for  months. Nobody ever plays those pieces before they’re shipped.

It’s the reason why players have always said that you should play a lot of the same piece and pick the one that is best. The table is, by far, the biggest culprit.

The idea that Brand X is making a particular, designed concavity on the table is, well, bunk.

They couldn’t do it if they wanted to. I mean, they can’t even insure that a .090 tip opening is actually a .090 tip opening, after all.

Flat table. Period.